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John Quiñones asks Delta, “What Would You Do?”

ABC News veteran John Quiñones visited Delta College on March 29 to speak with students as part of the President's Speaker Series.

John Quiñones

Quiñones praised Delta for the culture it has created for its students to thrive in their educational pursuits. 

"Delta College is about appreciating diversity and the thoughts and ways of other people," he said. "I love this school's focus to widen the classroom experience, to challenge all of you to think deeply and to act responsibly."

Quiñones has connected with audiences for three decades at ABC News, the anchor desk at "20/20" and "Primetime," telling the stories that mattered to him. He created “What Would You Do?” in 2008 to "hold up a mirror to American society" through scenarios that impact people of diverse life experiences. Addressing race, religion and sexual orientation to economic status, gender and other hot-button cultural issues, the program has aired for 16 seasons. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist passionately shared his wisdom about doing the right thing. He reflected on his life journey of defying the odds from poverty to breaking barriers to pursue his dreams. Afterward, he engaged in a question-and-answer session with students. 

The San Antonio native shared a memory of his connection with Michigan. At 13, he and his family were migrant farm workers who traveled to pick cherries north of Traverse City for 75 cents a bucket. Quiñones, who grew up in a Spanish-speaking household, recalled the prejudice they experienced as a Mexican American family. This memory he would carry throughout his career.

"That was the beginning of me wanting to shine a light on issues that affect this country as a reporter because of where I come from," Quiñones said to the audience. "I get the opportunity to shine a light on many issues people don't want to hear about, talk about or see." 

Though a high school teacher attempted to sway his dream of becoming a journalist, he never took no for an answer. Inspired by journalists Peter Jennings and Geraldo Rivera, whom he studied and looked up to, he worked his way up through local radio and TV stations. His career breakthrough came from his undercover coverage of Mexican migrants in the 1980s as a reporter with WBBM-TV in Chicago. Quiñones won two Emmy Awards – capturing the attention of ABC News. 

“I get the opportunity to shine a light on many issues people don’t want to hear about, talk about or see.”

John Quiñones


The Delta College President’s Speakers Series is funded by the President’s Office and the Peter & Barbra Boyse Endowment Fund through the Delta College Foundation. It brings nationally and internationally renowned speakers to talk to students to broaden their knowledge and expand their experiences, and to discuss important issues in our world. The events are free and open to the community.